Latest used car crash ratings show safety can be affordable

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

The results of the 2008 Used Car Safety Ratings were released today by Land Transport NZ and the Automobile Association.

Findings show that Kiwi motorists can buy a used vehicle which provides good protection to occupants and other road users in a crash for less than $5,000.

The Used Car Safety ratings assess the relative safety of 349 popular used vehicles, ranging from light cars to large 4WDs and vans.

The 2008 ratings are based on the latest information from the world’s largest database of real-life vehicle crashes, measuring the relative safety performance of used cars based on over 3.2 million actual crashes on New Zealand and Australian roads from 1986 to 2006. The crash data has been analysed and vehicle safety ratings calculated by Monash University’s Accident Research Centre.

Land Transport NZ Vehicles Manager Don Hutchinson says because the results are based on actual crashes, the ratings can be used to compare relative safety across different classes of vehicles.

“That means the small and medium sized cars with better than average ratings have outperformed the large cars and 4WDs with average or below average ratings. Using these results as a guide, a driver can choose a smaller, less expensive car over a larger vehicle without losing out on safety.”

Mr Hutchinson stressed that the ratings should only be used to compare the relative safety of different used car models, and the results did not mean older vehicles would provide the same level of safety as modern vehicles equipped with multiple airbag packages and Electronic Stability Control crash avoidance technology.

“In fact, a key finding of the ratings is that many of the better performing vehicles are newer models, showing the benefits of modern safety technology like airbags, side intrusion beams, seatbelt pre-tensioners and crumple zones. The majority of the worst performing vehicles are pre-1990 models, demonstrating the gains made in occupant protection in newer vehicles.”

Stella Stocks, General Manager of AA Technical Services, says safety should be high on the priority list for every vehicle purchase.

“Used car buyers have a lot of choice, and these ratings show there are significant differences in crash performance between vehicles. Choosing a safer car can literally mean the difference between life and death in a crash, and these ratings should be a vital guide for anyone in the market for a used vehicle.

“It’s encouraging that many of the better performing vehicles are in the medium and small vehicle classes. However, as we’ve seen with previous year’s results, very few commercial vehicles, either large 4WDs or light vehicles, scored well, which remains a big concern given these vehicles’ continued popularity,” Ms Stocks said.

While previous year’s ratings used separate assessments to score how well each vehicle protected occupants and how likely it was to harm other road users in a crash, the 2008 results combine both scores to arrive at a single safety rating for each vehicle.

The new ratings have been introduced to illustrate the relative performance of each vehicle in preventing death or serious injury to everyone involved in a crash, including the occupants of the rated vehicle, as well as occupants of other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.

Some of the safest vehicles in the 2008 UCSR include:

 Small  VW Golf  1999 to 2004  $8000
   Mazda3 (import Axela)  2003 to 2006  $13,500
 Medium  Holden Vectra  1997 to 2003  $4000
   VW Passat  1998 to 2005  $6000
   Saab 9-3  1998 to 2002  $9000
   Subaru Legacy  1999 to 2003  $7000
   Mazda6 (import Atenza)  2002 to 2006  $13,000
 Commercial Van  Ford Transit  2001 to 2005  $13,500
 People Mover  Mitsubishi Nimbus  1999 to 2003  $8000
 Compact 4WD  Honda CRV  1997 to 2001  $7000
Subaru Forester 1997 to 2002 $5000

*Estimates based on current vehicle sales advertisements and transaction history.